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[] Drake Buccaneer Q&A Part 2

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Drake Buccaneer Q&A - Part 2

Concept Art - Drake BuccaneerConcept Art - Drake Buccaneer

Greetings Citizens,

Another Concept Sale, another Question & Answer session. Since last Friday, we’ve been collecting questions from the dedicated Q&A post here and today our designers working on the ship will answer 10 more questions! We are very excited to discuss this ship in more detail, so let’s jump right in to part 2!

Special thanks to Matt Sherman for taking the time to answer these questions for us, and be sure to check out his Design Review at the bottom of this article!

Question & Answer

What is the maneuverability going to be like for the Buccaneer?

We’re currently targeting it’s maneuverability to fall somewhere close to the Gladius, with a goal of being more responsive. It should have a decent top-speed while still below more dedicated racing-ships like the 350r, M50, or Mustang Gamma/Omega. Against larger fighters like the Hornets or Sabre, it should feel more nimble, though with the noted durability drawbacks when lined up against them.

What variants down the road, if any, could you see the Buccaneer having?

There are currently no active plans for variants of the Buccaneer. Ideally, we want to make sure any of this ship’s customization comes directly from the choices in installed components it’s owner has decided on.

Does the Buccaneer have an ejection seat?

Like the rest of the Drake lineup, ejection seats are not provided. Die Trying, Die Flying, or Run.

The lower turret slot is listed as a S4 turret. Does that mean it has a S6 slot fixed / S5 gimbal? Or is it hard mounted as a turret and the max size is S4?

The underbody hardpoint is a S4 hardpoint. This would allow for a single, fixed S4 weapon, a single gimbaled S3, fixed twin-link S3, or gimbal twin-link S2 weapon configurations.

Will the Buccaneer be able to dock to a Cutlass?

No, the Buccaneer’s only entry/exit point will be its main cockpit access.

With it’s speed, durability, agility, range, very respectable weapons load-out, and comparatively low price, what are the Buccaneer’s trade-offs/weaknesses?

The bulk of the Buccaneer’s weapons are on its more exposed wings. If you’re fighting a Buccaneer and can knock these out, you’ll be able to seriously impact its potency, and ideally, push the pilot more towards running away from the fight as they’d be limited to just the weapons on the S4 mount. Beyond the weapon mounts, the more pronounced cockpit section is definitely going to create a more exposed cross-section to incoming fire.

In some of the concept art, the Bucaneer appeared to have two seats – Are you planning on releasing a two seater variant at some point?

No, the Buccaneer has only ever been planned and designed as a single-occupant, cockpit only seat. This also goes to show just how easy Jim Martin has been to work with on the concept of the Buccaneer, as when we saw those earlier versions leaning towards a 2 seat craft, he was extremely fast and accommodating to bring the ship back in line to the intended spec. There are no plans to provide anything other than a single-seat version.

The Buccaneer is an ‘interdictor’. What sort of unique traits/equipment are being brought to the table to fulfill that role?

At the core, its speed, maneuverability, and stopping power bring most of the interdiction potential of the Buccaneer. Along with that, we’re still developing out the full scope for more equipment-driven Interdiction gameplay and how you’ll be able to interact with other targets travelling at Quantum/Jump speeds. Expect more details to come as these systems are fully mapped and ready for implementation.

What will the fuel capacity/travel distance be like with those large engines?

It’ll be flexible. If you’ve loaded out the Buccaneer specifically for the furthest possible range, you definitely should be able to match the distance of a Herald, though a Herald will probably reach the destinations first for its speed. On the other hand, if you’ve decided to run a much more ballistic-heavy loadout, you’ll actively be giving up some of the maximum fuel capacity to bring along the ammunition for your weapons.

Looking Back on the Design Process

Design Goals, Visual Style, and Working Together

Back in February of this year, we announced the Drake Buccaneer, but we wanted to try approaching the design a little differently. We opened the Buccaneer sub-forum, gave everyone some bare bones information based on our early planning meetings, and asked to get everyone’s thoughts on what kind of reference imagery did those details evoke.

In just one months’ time, you contributed over 22 pages of visual ideas and inspiration, ranging from other spaceships, cars, boats, materials appearances, doodles, renders, and every possible level of detail between. Even after we stepped away to start locking down the design, you kept contributing for another 2 months with more ideas and images leading up to the start of the concept sale. So we want to really start this off with thanking everyone who participated and contributed to the thread, you’ve helped make this little experiment a success.

Now, what more people are probably wondering about is how those early details and ideas have held up into the final concept of the ship, and reasons any changes happened beyond just saying ‘balance’. So in keeping you more involved with how the Buccaneer has taken shape, we’ll take you through each set of the bullet-points originally posted. Overall, the information breaks down into 3 key groupings: Core Design Goals, Visual Style Requirements, and Reach Goals to add nuance and character to a ship.

First off, the Core Design Goals. These are the things that have been the backbone for planning out the Buccaneer’s design, and with only one exception, have held true throughout the design as we worked towards the final concept.

  • Single-Pilot craft with no interior. – We always planned the Buccaneer to be a dedicated fighter for the Drake family of ships, and felt a cockpit-only setup would deliver that best. When we received the 2-seat concepts, we knew we still wanted to keep this ship single-occupant, but through the revisions, we’ve been able to add in a weapon rack so you’ll be able to bring some options with you both in space and when you land.
  • Fast and Maneuverable, under a pure racer in speed, but handles well at high speed. – All still alive and supported by the 16 maneuvering thrusters which will provide 4 dedicated thrusters to the top, bottom, and side faces of the ship. The current tuning goals are to make it extremely nimble around mid-high combat speeds, consistently strong pitch roll through max cruise speed, but weaker strafing and Yaw-rotation at higher speeds.
  • Roughly the same size as a Sabre. – Our only exception in the Core Design Goals. As the design for the Buccaneer narrowed in, we decided the ship would be better suited around the size and weight class of the Gladius rather than the Sabre, as the larger profile would have led to a far more bulky design than its performance goals needed. In the end, we’re happier with a ship planned to fight above its weight class rather than just match it.
  • Pairs well with the Cutlass or Caterpillar as an escort fighter. – Probably the most important goal, as it helps to fill a specific void inside the Drake family of ships. This was even expanded to make sure with the right loadout, a Buccaneer can also serve as escort to a Herald, able to support the entire lineup. Overall, for anything that changed in the design, this is probably the thing that prompted the change the most.
  • Extreme reliability, exceptional ease of maintenance. – Twin-engine, redundant key components to ensure no one attack can take it below half fighting strength. We want you to get shot and survive in your travels, to feel safe taking hits to the hull without taking bigger hits to your UEC when it comes time to repair.

Next up are the Visual Style Requirements. These are some of the primary Drake Interplanetary aesthetics that help shape the companies visual style guide. Each goal needed to be met, but still left enough room for the look and feel to line up with the gameplay needs.

  • Engines tend to me mounted at the end of wing-like features, pontoon style. – Engines on drake ships are typically very powerful compared to the size of the ship and visually they need to be fairly large features, such as in the Caterpillar, Herald and Cutlass. They are always cylindrical and when twin mounted are always mounted on pontoon style features, either midway through a wing or at the tips. They are meant to look large and industrial. On the Buccaneer the engines are huge features of the ship and are one of the major elements you notice first, this ship is fast.
  • Canopies do not have any curved glass, they are all flat panes held together by strong struts. – Drake as a whole has a construction vehicle tinge to them which is reflected in the way they arrange their canopies. Similar to construction cranes their canopies tend to wrap around the pilot from the front to the top affording them more visibility. Canopies as a feature also tend to be the forward most part of the cockpit or bridge area of the ship. Glass on their canopies also tend to remain very flat, making them easier to replace and manufacture in the event of a fracture. The Buccaneer in particular opted for thinner struts then you would typically find in a drake ship because it is meant to be a fighter, being able to keep track of fast moving enemies became a priority.
  • Function is King. – Overall drake is interested in making a functional vehicle that can get the job done as cheaply as possible and isn’t overly interested in luxury or comfort. They leave many mechanical features entirely exposed even if it becomes a hazard because in their mind it makes repair/modifications much easier. You will notice that the engines on the Buccaneer are more exposed and that the landing gear does not fold neatly into compartments that’s tuck them away and out of sight.

Lastly, the Reach Goals. These are ideas that we felt could be capable additions to the ship, but would still be safe enough to alter or cut from the original design to help deliver on the goal of a dedicated fighter.

  • It is planned to have the ability to carry/move cargo, it just doesn’t sit inside the ship. – While limited external cargo was initially in the design, for the Drake style, we felt it would have caused the ship to sway too much from a dedicated fighter. Though removing this is also what led to the Buccaneer getting its 2 Size 1 missile hardpoints, as it was initially designed as a pure gunship.
  • While it would have the same size footprint as a Sabre, it won’t be filling as much of that space. – This changed a bit with the size change to lineup more towards the Gladius. Now, it’s almost the inverse, with the Buccaneer and the Gladius both having a comparable size/weight profile, with the Gladius taking up less space in that general volume.
  • Its biggest weapons are all planned to allow a full 360 rotational arc from their mount. – While this is still technically the case with the S4 mount, the original design planned to include the S3 mounts now located under the wings to have the same range. In the end, the usefulness of all 3 hardpoints rotating would undermine the look and feel too much without offering a consistent and compelling gameplay reason.
  • It’s prompting more active exploration and design into fake-component containers for cargo. – This is still very much the case in terms of planning for Smuggling gameplay and how it’ll impact not just the Buccaneer, but any ship and pilot willing to give up a little potency to their ship to help move some high-value contraband when needed. Please keep in mind, these mechanics are still are far from fully designed and implemented, but are starting to get some of their groundwork laid.

Hopefully this has provided everyone with a bit more insight into some of the choices made as we worked to bring the Buccaneer to its current state. While we’re really happy with how things have turned out, like anything still in development, there’s still some room for changes and alterations. Exact tuning and performance are things we can only plan for so much on paper before the ship is fully built and flying, but if anything does change, you can expect it to be in direct support of one of the Core Design Goals for the Buccaneer.

Once again, we want to thank everyone who participated in the original Reference Image thread. All of your contributions helped, from showing us some new things we hadn’t seen or thought of as Drake, along with seeing a number of images and ideas that were already working their way into the Drake style guide, helping us know we’re heading down the right track. This was definitely a new spin on our design process, so we hope you enjoyed being able to come along for the ride.

– Matt Sherman

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